In the San Diego Union Tribune
Dec. 16, 2015
Lavender Shortbread cookies
View the recipe and a mouth watering photo here:
In the San Diego Union Tribune
Dec. 16, 2015
Lavender Shortbread cookies
View the recipe and a mouth watering photo here:
a Happy New Year
A traditional French salad for New Year’s Eve
Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories
. . . “As a family, we spent many a New Year’s Day at (Madame Simone’s) seamlessly orchestrated dinner parties. She was far and away the most impeccable hostess within my parents’ circle of friends. Madame Simone left no detail to chance when she entertained. That made more humiliating an incident when my slightly tipsy father shattered a few crystals in a chandelier with an errant cork he launched from a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne.
The food was always trois étoiles, three star, at Madame Simone’s, even to my then unsophisticated palate. But what I marveled at most was the artistry with which she blindly applied her carmine lipstick. I had plenty of opportunity to study her meticulous technique as she recoated her lips with rouge à lèvres almost as often as we changed plates during the multi-course banquet. While the adults sipped champagne and debated political issues around the starched-linen tablecloth laid with monogrammed cutlery, antique candelabras, and sparkling crystal de Bohème, my brother and I diverted ourselves with the fun-house reflections our faces made in our hostess’s polished silver goblets.
Cheeks flushed from a fingerbreadth ration of chilled Vouvray wine, we savored plump oysters abducted from their beds in the Oualidia lagoon four hours south of town. Like seasoned gastronomes, we devoured dinde aux marrons, roast turkey with chestnuts, and made piglets of ourselves with the perfectly ripened fromages, cheeses, and salade d’endives aux noix, Belgian endives with walnuts . . .”
Salade d’Endives aux Noix
(Belgian Endive Salad with Walnuts)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons walnut oil
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons minced tarragon leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried, crushed
4 Belgian endives
¼ cup walnut pieces, toasted
¼ cup crumbled Blue cheese or Roquefort
½ cup bacon bits
Whisk mustard with vinegar until smooth. Continue to whisk while adding oil in a stream, until sauce emulsifies. Stir in salt, pepper, and tarragon. Set aside.
Wipe endives with a damp paper towel. Trim and discard ¼ inch from stumps. Cut 1½ inches from tips and set aside.
Cut what remains of endives into ½-inch-wide slices. Arrange in the center of a serving platter and surround with separated leaves from the tips. Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with toasted walnuts, Roquefort, and bacon bits.
from Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories. Copyright Kitty Morse 2012. All rights reserved.
PS: Fast forward to January 2014:
A local publisher would like to republish my sweet book on Edible Flowers.I am thrilled. Yes, I did go out this morning and picked the last of my orange blossoms. About 3 cups of petals remained, just enough to make about 1/2 cup of exquisite jam. Stay tuned!
Abundant winter rains did much to send my orange, lemon, and blood orange trees into a “bloomin’ ” frenzy. Let’s hope this is an indication of next year’s harvest.
I was tempted to pick the seven pounds of fresh orange blossoms necessary to concoct the exquisitely scented orange blossom jam that Morocco’s Sephardic cooks prepare in time for La Mimouna, the celebration held on the last evening of Passover. (The recipe appears in The Scent of Orange Blossoms: Sephardic Cuisine from Morocco, now out of print.) I decided against making jam when I realized that my refrigerator already holds two dozen jars of blood orange jelly.
So I’ll just inhale the citrus blossoms’ aroma and wait for the next batch of fruit.
At the same time, a sunny patch of backyard is slowly being colonized by Society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea). Unlike orange blossoms, theirs isn’t a scent that intoxicates. Rather, the star shaped flower smells and tastes like fresh garlic. I love to toss a few mauve blossoms in a salad, or sprinkle them over a bowl of soup.
My rosemary bush is also coming out of the winter doldrums. I have been known to hug my rosemary just for the pleasure of it! And I encourage our dog to look for lizards among its lower limbs, so I can run my hand through her rosemary-scented coat! Rosemary’s blossoms (Rosmarinus officinalis) are delightful edibles: The sky-blue blossoms have a more delicate flavor than the plant’s slender leaves.
Just budding is my Lemon Verbena (Aloysia triphylla syn. Lippia citriodora), for making my favorite herb tea. An infusion of luisa, as lemon verbena is called in Arabic, is said to act as a soporific if taken before bedtime.
Blossoms of calendula, cilantro, and lavender will hold me over until summer, when I can graze on plethora of edible flowers, from basil and arugula, to roses, begonias, and borage.
If you happen to frequent the farmer’s market in Vista (CA) on Saturday mornings, stop by my friend Suilin Robinson’s stand, a lovely and knowledgeable grower who grows a variety of edible flowers.
Here is recipe to get you started on cooking with edible flowers. A list of common edible flowers follows the recipe.
Garden Salad with Warm Goat Cheese and Society Garlic Flowers
(courtesy of Andrea Peterson of Peterson Specialty Produce)
4 cups baby greens, washed and dried
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup mixed flowers: calendula petals, or viola, borage, chive, or arugula blossoms
1/2 cup chopped prunes
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 8-ounce log goat cheese
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup Society Garlic flowers
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, water, sugar, salt, and pepper.
Combine baby greens and edible flowers in a large bowl. Toss greens lightly with dressing. Mound equal amounts on four salad plates. Top with prunes and pine nuts. Refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 450°F. Slice goat cheese into 4 equal parts. Lightly brush each slice on both sides with olive oil and dredge with breadcrumbs. Place on a non-stick baking sheet, and bake 5 minutes, until just softened. While still warm, place cheese on the prepared greens and garnish with garlic flowers.
From Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion by Kitty Morse. (Ten Speed Press, 1994)
NOTE: MY BOOK IS OUT OF PRINT, THOUGH
I HAVE A HANDFUL IN MY POSSESSION. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ORDER A SIGNED COPY for Easter or for Mother’s Day, SEND ME AN E-MAIL at email@example.com
Only edible flowers grown without pesticides are suitable for eating, and even then, should only be consumed in moderate amounts. When in doubt, consult a horticultural specialist, a specialized nursery or an encyclopedia of edible plants.
Arugula (Eruca sativa.) Also roquette or rocket. Add mustardy tasting leaf to salad mixes. Use milder-flavored blossoms as garnish.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum): Exists in dozens of varieties. Sprinkle blend with soups, egg dishes or pasta.
Begonia (Begonia cultivars): Delicate crunchy petals have pronounced citrusy flavor. Use as garnish, in tea sandwiches, or in salad mix.
Borage (Borago officinalis): Blossoms have cool, cucumber taste. Candy or use as garnish.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) a.k.a. pot marigold, known for centuries for its medicinal properties. Petals add a yellow tint to soups, spreads or scrambled eggs.
Carnation: (Dianthus caryophyllus). Steep in wine, candy, or use as cake decoration. Remove petals from calyx and snip off bitter white base before using.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). Member of Daisy family, good raw or steamed. Also distilled into wine.
A favorite of mine! Day-lily (Hemerocallis). Raw petals have distinct crispiness. Pickle or stir-fry fresh buds. In China, dried buds called “golden needles” are used to flavor soups and stews.
Dianthus: Miniature member of carnation family with light nutmeg scent. Petals add color to salads or aspics.
Dill (Anethum graveolens.) Use herb and fresh blossoms to season hot or cold soups, seafood, dressings or dips. Seeds reserved mainly for pickling or baking.
Lavender, English (Lavandula officinalis.) Picked at their prime and stripped from stems, diminutive blooms add a mysterious scent to custards, flans, or sorbets. Dried lavender blossoms enter into perfumes and pot pourris.
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus): From brilliant yellow to orange in color, nasturtiums rank among most common edible flowers. Leaves add peppery tang to salads, and pickled seed pods are less expensvive substitute for capers.
Rose (Rosa species): Petals used in syrups and jellies, perfumed butters and sweet spreads. Candy miniature roses whole, or use to decorate elegant desserts. Large petals often candied individually.
Rosemary (Rosmarnus officinalis): Fresh or dried herb and blossoms enhance flavor of Mediterranean dishes. Use with meats, seafoods, sorbets or dressings.
Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) also called Mexican saffron: Dried flowers often passed off as “real” Spanish saffron (but lack characteristic saffron aroma.) Used as a natural dye and food coloring, and to make cooking oil.
Zucchini (Cucurbitaceae): Individual flowers stuffed or deep-fried. Left whole, blossoms are lovely additions to frittatas or quiches.
Suilin Robinson and her husband Whitney, owners of Whole Earth Acre Nursery in Vista, CA, are experts in edible flowers. E-mail Lothse@att.net if you have questions.
My new book is finding a niche in a number of stores from Southern California, to Wisconsin, Illinois, New York City, and even, south of the border. For that, I am most grateful You can, of course, always order it on this site, and now, on Amazon.com as well.
With Easter and Passover fast approaching, a biblical menu seems in order. One of the biblical ingredients I love to eat, is leeks. Especially the pencil thin "poireau" that I sometime purchase at our local farmer’s market, or more often, when I am in Morocco.
The large leeks we find in US are ideally suited for making soup (green fronds included, though discarded before serving), or to make leek quiche (if you slice them finely enough), but nothing beats the slender leeks for the following dish. You can follow the leeks with Dukkah (sesame/nigella/cumin sprinkle),with bread and olive oil, for dipping; Roasted Lamb with Cumin; flat bread; and for dessert, Dates Stuffed with Almond Paste, or Sephardic style Harosset, made with dates.
from A Biblical Feast: Ancient Mediterranean Flavors for Today’s Table.
Leeks with Olive Oil, Vinegar
& Mustard Seed
It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took,
and cast into his garden;
and it grew, and waxed a great tree;
and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.
Photography Owen Morse c. 2009
4 or 5 slender leeks
(the slenderest you can find)
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 sprigs parsley, minced
Trim leeks and rinse under running water. In a saucepan, bring water to a boil. Cook leeks until very soft, 10-15 minutes. Drain and place in a serving dish. Using a mortar and pestle or electric spice grinder, finely grind mustard seeds. In a small bowl, blend vinegar and mustard seeds. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon dressing over leeks and garnish with parsley.
In answer to the e-Newsletter I sent out at the beginning of February, I received this lovely letter from Danielle Avidan, a follower of this website. She was kind enough to contribute this recipe.
She writes: “My grandmother used a heavy earthenware container, but it can be prepared in an ordinary salad bowl, even a terrine (ça se garde très bien au refrigerateur!)"
Bitter oranges appetizer
3 large bitter oranges (Seville oranges) or 4 medium ones
About 10 to 2 black olives, preferably the ‘wrinkled’ ones from Morocco that can be found in Persian markets;
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 tsp paprika, or more if you like;
1/4 tsp cumin;
1/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes (optional);
3 (or 4) T Canola or grapeseed oil (do not to substitute olive oil!)
Salt and white pepper to taste.
Pit olives. Peel oranges, and cut in small cubes. Remove seeds. Thoroughly mix all ingredients in an earthenware bowl or ordinary salad bowl. Refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours. Adjust seasonings before serving at room temperature.
Note: The longer you keep it the better it tastes! This can accompany any meat, chicken or fish dish, as a first course, or can be served with other ‘salads’ such as beet, eggplant, carrot etc..
Tita, my own great-aunt and culinary mentor, often prepared a similar salad with the bitter, Seville oranges that we picked in Marrakech. My own version contains Valencia or Navels, dried Kalamata olives, and chopped red onion or diced fennel, depending upon the availability or the inspiration!